From taking a dip in the ocean to relaxing under a palm tree, visiting a tropical resort offers endless mind-body benefits. By creating tropical-themed bathrooms, homeowners can enjoy these perks year round.
With floral wallpaper, golden pineapples and oceanic blues becoming all the rage, designing with the tropics in mind is easier than ever. Follow these design and style tips to recreate a bathroom oasis.
Setting a Tropical Mood
When designing a bathroom to reflect tropical themes, it’s important to set the right mood. Tropical places are relaxing, stress free environments, so colors should always be soft and inviting. Kimberly Sayers Bartosch at The Spruce writes that tropical interior design can blend many different styles together.
For example, tropical looks can lean towards coastal styles and surfer chic looks. Or, they can assume a swankier vibe inspired by places like Palm Beach or Bali. Regardless of which sub-style you choose, remember that tropical bathrooms are always bright and lively. If a color or pattern doesn’t make you feel calm, it’s probably not the best fit.
Tropical interior styles should use nature motifs to create a sense of calm, says Derek Farnquist at The Carpet Guys. Ferns and potted palms, for example, can bring the outdoor tropics inside a home. Bringing wood elements into the bathroom can also achieve this look, but only when the trees are native to tropical places. Wood from northeastern trees like pine, oak and birch can lead a tropical theme astray.
If you’re wondering where to start, it can help to begin with a color scheme inspired by oceanic blues. According to Kate Simmons at Decoist, blue-hued design elements are a great way to evoke a sense of being by the sea. She showcases a bathroom with floor to ceiling custom glass tiles. These tiles appear in varying shades that mimic the dynamic blues of the Caribbean. Opting for reflective, high gloss tiles also helps reflect more light in the space, making it feel brighter like a sunny day at the beach.
The Essence of Greenery
Green decor and plants evoke of the lush palms and ferns that characterize tropical geographies.
Don’t be afraid to add more plants than you normally would, either. In fact, using a lot of tropical plants in a small space can add a rainforest feel to the tropical theme. Interior Style Hunter explains that since people don’t spend much time in the bathroom, it’s an opportunity to push the limits of interior design and go over the top.
When a bathroom has enough natural light to support live greenery, hearty, broad-leafed plants work best for creating a tropical theme. Master gardener Marie Iannotti recommends the philodendron, a tropical plant that loves the warm, humid conditions of the bathroom. She also says that gardenias can work in bathrooms with bright, indirect lighting.
Adding Greenery without Plants
While greenery is essential to tropical style, it doesn’t have to be real. There are many ways to incorporate plant imagery into a bathroom that doesn’t have the proper lighting to support living plants.
The Better Decorating Bible shows how a hotel bathroom is decorated in banana leaf wallpaper. These leaves make a bold statement in the bathroom, adding intense greenery to an already luxurious space. Plus, the green is balanced with dark wood and splashes of gold, which adds class to the space so that it continues feeling resort-like.
An additional idea for adding green color is demonstrated by Angela Conley at The Decor Guru. Conley incorporates emerald green sea turtle art into her bathroom. This tropical-inspired pattern enhances the faux tropical leaves in the space, adding a lush feel, even with minimal natural light. The artwork is inspired by authentic Polynesian and Hawaiian quilts, so it’s also a nod to the culture of tropical regions.
Yellow and Golden Hues
After blues and greens, yellow is an important bathroom color because it reminds of sunlight, pineapples and hibiscus flowers. Because of the potential power to overwhelm, however, the color should be added sparingly.
For a tasteful example of how to incorporate yellow into a space, take a hint from the tropical resort Villa La Banane, located on the French Caribbean island St. Barts. Allison McCarthy at California Home + Design shows how this luxuriant oasis uses a classy golden yellow in various ways around the resort. Sometimes it appears in bold patterns on the wall; other times it is seen as subtle stripes in an elegant towel. These examples show how yellow can be balanced according to the other elements in a space.
Another way to add yellow or gold is with bold floral prints. According to Philippa Cambers, founder of design blog The Maker Place, oversized flowers are a design trend that’s here to stay. Chambers shows how floral wall murals can be used to contrast dark spaces, and while the flowers she shows aren’t uniquely tropical, this same idea can be applied to tropical prints. So, featuring hibiscus flowers and banana leaves on darker walls, for instance, adds both drama and tropical sensibility.
Pineapples have long been a popular design element across tropical-inspired homes.
Jessica Gordon Ryan, interior designer and curator of the lifestyle blog The Entertaining House, explains that the pineapple has remained popular because it represents both hospitality and cheer — making it the perfect option for a bathroom inspired by tropical resorts. For wallpaper that isn’t as bold as banana leaves, a monochromatic pineapple pattern in orange or blue can feel subtle and sophisticated.
This motif can be incorporated in either subtle or significant ways. Sarah Beaumont at Laurel & Wolf Interior Design demonstrates how pineapples can add glamour to a space when they’re featured in metallic hues, like gold. They can also take on a more playful feel when they’re featured in colorful prints and patterns. For a chic look that might appear in a high-end resort, consider pineapples in muted hues or white.
Tropical places are naturally beautiful and relaxing on their own. Likewise, incorporating natural materials into a bathroom can amp up the effortless relaxation found on so many tropical islands.
According to Design Threads, a blog by textile retailer Stout Textiles, neutral and natural tones add warmth and comfort to tropical styles. While some types of wood should be avoided, as we’ve discussed, it’s a good idea to opt for tree species native to tropical spaces. This includes ipe, rosewood and teak seen in the form of wood flooring, ceilings or cabinetry. Natural fibers such as straw, raffia and sisal also add peace to a nature-inspired tropical bathroom.
Hawaiian Home, a style blog by Krista Mayne, offers tips for recreating the tropical influences of Hawaii through bamboo. Mayne found a Hawaiian armoire that looks like bamboo, and added that to her bathroom in place of a closet. She also used bamboo cabinet pulls on her vanity to keep with the bamboo theme.
Stone can also be used to create a beachy vibe, as many tropical beaches are strewn with pebbles and rocks. In a coastal home, design studio Lisa Sherry Interieurs created a wood and stone vanity that feels both rustic and luxurious. A wide stone basin acts as the sink, and is set on a rustic wooden cart. A bright brass faucet adds a touch of luxury and class to these two natural elements.
Images by: bialasiewicz/©123RF Stock Photo, Dimitris Vetsikas, Richard Mcall